By ROB JONAS
ROTTERDAM – The Schalmont girls basketball team fended off Catholic Central 41-31 in its Colonial Council opener Friday, Nov. 30.
The Sabres built a 20-13 lead in the first half before the Crusaders rallied to within three points by halftime. The score was still close until the the third quarter, when Schalmont freshman guard Payton Graber spearheaded a 15-6 run by scoring seven of her team-high 15 points.
“This is huge for our young team,” said Schalmont head coach Jeff VanHoesen. “Going into this season, we lost two really good seniors [to graduation]. We have a young group of girls who have just been working hard in practice. It’s a huge win to beat a [class] Double A, and [Catholic Central coach] Audra [DiBacco] runs an awesome program.”
Catholic Central’s offense had a difficult time getting into a groove against Schalmont’s aggressive defense. The Sabres’ full-court press forced the Crusaders into several turnovers on overthrows, and Schalmont picked up more than 10 defensive rebounds off missed Catholic Central shots near the basket.
“We got [the deficit] down to one point [in the third quarter], and in … back-to-back possessions, we turned the ball over,” said DiBacco. “Credit Schalmont’s defense for being up in our space and creating those turnovers. We had 21 turnovers, which is a lot.”
Another Schalmont freshman, Haley Burchhardt, contributed 12 points, and junior Emily Lenehan added nine points as the Sabres pulled away for the 10-point victory.
“Our motto is every day, we need to get better, and this obviously is a huge win for us,” said VanHoesen. “But, we need to make sure that we come back ready to work. Our league is tough. Every team in the league always has a huge challenge for us.”
Riqiya Harris netted 10 points, and Sarah Mattefield chipped in with nine points for Catholic Central.
“We’re new – a lot of new bodies, a lot of new faces to the team – and we’re just figuring out how to mesh with each other,” said DiBacco.
Photos by Rob Jonas